At the Holliswood Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, we are aware that the traditional wisdom surrounding wound care has suggested that it is best to keep open wounds clean and dry. Although the importance of cleanliness remains as important as it ever was, more recent approaches to wound care demonstrate that allowing the wound to be exposed to a certain level of moisture is actually more beneficial to healing than keeping the wound completely dry. Due to seniors’ slowed healing processes and decreased ability to stave off infection, optimal healing conditions are especially important.

It would be nice if there were a simple answer to the question of the best product or type of dressing to use when treating a wound. However, because different wounds result in different amounts of exudate (the cells and fluid that seep out of a wound), and because the proper balance of moisture promotes healing, the goal is always to add or subtract the proper amount of moisture from the wound.

Wounds that are too dry require the addition of and preservation of moisture. Transparent films (both adhesive and non-adhesive) have no ability to absorb moisture, so they are useful in treating wounds that require addition moisture. Hydrocolloid and hydrogel dressings are capable of supplying the wound with moisture through the application of a gel while still allowing for necessary debridement (the removal of damaged tissue and debris from a wound). They therefore help to keep the wound clean and moisturized while still reducing the chance of infection.

Wounds with an excessive amount of seepage (of exudate) require that some, but not all, of the moisture to be removed from the wound. This is usually most effectively accomplished through absorption of some moisture into the treatment dressing. Calcium alginate dressings, foam dressings, and hydrofiber dressings all allow for different levels and types of absorption based on the requirements for the specific wound. Our staff specializes in assessing the best dressing for each wound and in treating them in the manner that best optimizes healing.